Social Commerce in the Middle East: Is It Worth the Investment?
Someone stumbles on your business’s Instagram page and sees a product that interests them. They really like this product and get excited about buying it.
As the business owner whose goal is to boost sales, your best interest is to catch the potential buyers at the moment when their excitement over your product is highest. You need to make the purchasing phase as easy and fast as possible for them.
This is where social commerce comes into play. With social commerce, you can use social media networks to promote and sell your products at the same time. It is about offering an easy and smooth shopping experience for your customers.
Global social commerce is growing by the day and is expected to reach USD 3,369.8 billion by 2028. In this article, we will focus on the MENA region, and explain why social commerce is worth the investment in this market.
Table of contents
What is social commerce
Social commerce or social shopping is the process of selling products and services through social media. It encourages consumers to buy products directly from your social pages without the need to open another browser.
With social commerce, your users are able to complete a purchase in the middle of scrolling through their social feeds, and after checking out and completing the transaction, they can return to their browsing.
Business owners can tag products in their Instagram posts so shoppers can buy them with few clicks. Or they can create a customizable Facebook Shop where they can import their products and give the shoppers the option to check out directly from the app.
There are endless ways of selling on social media, and we will be discovering more of them later in this article. For now, let’s learn more about the benefits of using social commerce in the middle eastern digital market.
Benefits of social commerce
Why is social commerce important? Other than that it provides your business with multiple user-friendly shopping channels via social media platforms, social commerce has a lot of other benefits. Here are some key ones.
1- More than half the world’s population uses social media
According to Statista, there are over 4.59 billion social media users globally, and this number is estimated to reach almost 6 billion people in 2027.
If we focus on the Middle East, we find that in almost all of the countries more than half the population is active on social media.
In the UAE for instance, according to global media insight, as of 2022, there are 9.98 million active social media users out of a total population of 10.08 million people.
In Saudi Arabia, we find that 29.5 million people are using social media out of a population of 35.84 million people.
As for Qatar, 99.8% of the total population are active social media users.
In fact, it was the COVID-19 pandemic that led to this increase in social media usage in the MENA region. As users started spending more time on social platforms, new opportunities arose for the social commerce industry. Businesses started using social media not only for brand awareness, but for selling as well.
What also helps businesses who turned to social commerce is that 28% of the middle eastern population are aged between 15 and 29, which is very significant since social media penetration is far higher for Millennials and Gen Z than for older age groups.
2- Precise audience targeting
Social media platforms provide you with a lot of customer data that allow you to track users’ social and buying behavior. This way, you can market your products to your specific target audience and give them the option to complete the purchasing transaction as quickly as possible if they decide to buy.
Of course, to reach your target audience, you have to know your target audience. You have to gather data about your customers, learn what they like and what they don’t, and figure out what social media platform is their go-to.
For example, in Saudi Arabia, Snapchat is the most popular social media platform with more than 20 million users. In the UAE, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger take the lead.
Collecting and analyzing data seems like a lot of work, right? Don’t worry, our team of savvy digital marketers is here to help. Request a meeting with them to discuss how they can help your business prosper.
3. Trusted social proof
What’s e-commerce’s worst enemy? In a digital world where the competition is becoming harder every day, e-commerce’s worst enemy is bad reviews. In fact, product reviews, whether bad or good, are what define a customer’s purchasing behavior.
Consumers trust their fellow consumers, and with social media, interacting with each other has never been easier. Users need to read reviews and talk to previous customers first before trusting your brand.
Social commerce has this covered. Through user-generated content like comments, likes, follows and shares, brands can create positive feedback and enhance their authenticity. This way, they help customers make informed decisions that make them trust and purchase your products.
Top social commerce examples in the Middle East
1-Social commerce plugins and third-party apps
Social commerce plugins and third-party apps are still emerging to make social shopping easier and easier. Below are 2 examples of social commerce apps based in the UAE.
First, we have Zbooni. It is a simple invoicing tool that allows you to create order and/or payment links that you can share with customers on messaging apps you already use. With Zbooni, you can create a fast and safe checkout experience for you and your customers.
Another platform is ShopperON. It is a video shopping platform, which enables individuals to host live streams and stores to create and host their own channels on the platform.
ShopperON allows online shoppers to ask questions during a live stream, and the host can answer the questions with shoppable products showing on the screen. When the products appear on the screen, users can purchase them without leaving the live stream.
2-Social media checkout capabilities
The best feature of social commerce is the ability to check out directly from a social media app.
For example, we have Instagram. It has a “checkout” feature on its app, which allows users to purchase a product from a post. All customers have to do is click on the “View Products” tag attached to the product, choose a size and color, and proceed to payment, all within the platform.
There are a lot of other apps that have this same checkout feature like Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and more.
Shoppable ads on Instagram and Snapchat allow businesses to tag products in sponsored posts. It allows users to purchase a product directly from the ad and helps businesses collect data and insights on what ads convert prospects into customers immediately.
Shoppable ads help businesses reach their target audience directly. So if your ideal customers are on Snapchat and Instagram, why not try to market and sell your products to them via this feature?
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Let’s see what we gathered so far:
- Global social commerce is expected to reach USD 3,369.8 billion by 2028
- More than half the world’s population uses social media
- In the UAE, there are 9.98 million active social media users out of a total population of 10.08 million people
- In Saudi Arabia, there are 29.5 million active social media users out of a population of 35.84 million people.
- More and more social commerce apps are emerging every day
The answer is clear. YES! Social commerce is worth the investment in the Middle East. If you haven’t started yet or don’t know where to start, request a meeting with our team of digital marketing strategists, and they will put you on the right track.